1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Puttenham

William Beloe, in Anecdotes of Literature and Scarce Books 1 (1807) 236, 2 (1807) 229-30.



With the date of 1589 we have Puttenham's Arte of Englishe Poesie, a very rare and very curious book, progressive increasing in its value. Mr. Isaac Reed informs me, that he well remembers when the common price asked for a good copy of Gascoigne's works was five shillings. I do not think that it could now be obtained for five guineas. Thus also it has happened with Puttenham. I remember thinking forty shillings an enormous sum to be given for this book; but I have since seen one, with the head of Elizabeth, in no very excellent condition, produce somewhat above eight pounds....

I transcribe the following note from the Roxburgh copy. "Although this work is dated 1589, it was manifestly written much earlier. Our author refers to Sir Nicholas Bacon, who began to be high in the departments of the law in Queen Mary's time, and died in 1579. See p. 116, where Puttenham tells a story, from his own knowledge, in the year 1553, of a ridiculous oration made in parliament by a new speaker of the house, &c."

In a copy of this book, formerly belonging to Ben Jonson, is the following list of the works of Puttenham. The list is in the hand writing of old Ben himself. "Hierotechni; A Briefe Romance of the Isle of G. Brittyn; Triumphalles; Gynoecratia; The Originals and Pedigree of the Engl. Toung; The Enter-view of two great Princesses; Elpine, an Eclogue; Lustie London, an Enterlude; Epithaphs; Partheniades; The Wooer, an Enterlude; Minerva, an Hymne; Philocalia; A Book de Decoro."